Pen & paper are especially good for drawing non-linear information, like mind-maps and trail-maps. Using them to make annotated maps of your hikes can deepen your experiences and build a rich record of your explorations that you can revisit in your notebook at any time.
Above is a photo from the “usage examples” section of the Hobonichi Techo site, photo by Chiaki Usutani.
From the description: “This user fills her daily pages with the mountain-climbing paths she explores with her friends on her days off. The records include how she felt about the climb, information about the route for the day, the name of the mountain and peak, and things she learned from the hike, all separated by pen color. She always has the Hobonichi Techo on her, so she also likes to write about things she remembers while on the train to work or off at lunch.”
I like how she uses bubbles to enclose each of her notes, so she can fit a lot of information in a small space without it all blending together into a mess of text. Her example also shows how you don’t need to make your notes while you’re on the trail, but can do it later when you have the time. Not too much later though, or you’ll start to forget the details! I personally don’t like making my maps while on the hike; I find it’s best to fully focus on what’s around me, to impress it on my mind as much as possible, so the depth of the experience will make it easy to remember it later when I’m back home with my notebook.
These two (pocket Moleskine) examples are from Kolby Kirk, an inspiring trail-notebooker who blogs at www.thehikeguy.com.
Doing little drawings like this is great! They really help you slow down and see the details of what you’re passing by. This is a case where using your notebook on the trail isn’t a distraction, but a tool for intensive focus on your surroundings.
Above is a page from the 2015 Hobonichi Techo guide book, in a section of usage examples. Toshimitsu Shiina keeps some awesome hike notes, with photographs pasted in that are indexed to their location on the trail. On the right is an elevation map of the hike plotted over distance; circled letters along the path correspond to the lettered photos.
This is one of mine. First I write the date, location, how long the hike took & what the weather was like, then draw a map of the path taken. Anything interesting along the way gets noted with a word or two or a tiny sketch along the path, and beside the map are more detailed notes (in between are other random writings that aren’t connected to the hikes).
Nosy about the text? Nothing too exciting…on the left: “weed whacked trails, pixel house, quaint wooden signs, book of motion-activated photos of deer & coyotes near pixel house / Hidden place that reminds me of woods in Friday the 13th nintendo game – pixel house is one of cabins / New England Forestry Foundation? / Lots of broken & blown down trees / Jeff pushed down an old dead tree trunk / Coyote tracks? No sign of moose.” And on the right: “All the way to the bottom near the waterfalls & back. Walked past the end @ North trail to find a nice spot between 2 waterfalling rivers, took a nap on a nice reclining rock. / Lots of other cars, road closed sign so we all parked @ overflow area. Muddy road. / Carpenter bee (?) with full pollen baskets of light yellow pollen, crawling @ base of tree near nap spot.”
These hikes happened three and a half years ago, but when I re-read my notes, I remember being in my body when I had (most of) those experiences. If I hadn’t written them down, I probably wouldn’t remember any of it! It’s nice not to lose our silly little details…don’t you love remembering your own?